Dragons’ Den slimming chair on test in Norwich

It was turned down in the Dragons' Den, but a massage chair aimed at helping people lose weight or reduce stress has proved popular with mental health trust staff who have been trialling it in Norwich.

The �5,000 Muriji massage chair was loaned to the physiotherapy department of Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust to investigate its role as a way of helping to improve staff health and wellbeing.

The chair, which viewers saw featured on the Dragons' Den BBC television programme on Sunday night, uses 'Sit and Slim' and 'Sit and De-stress' audio recordings to encourage and help people to lose weight or reduce stress.

The mental health trust asked staff based at its Hellesdon headquarters in Drayton High Road for volunteers to take part in two three-month trials from January to June.

A total of 18 people took part using the weight loss audio, and of those 12 lost weight, four put on weight and two stayed the same. But of the 12 who shed pounds, the average weight loss was 11.5lbs, and the greatest weight loss was 20.5lbs.

The trust has a small health and wellbeing team which looks at way of keeping staff healthy while working in what is often highly stressful and difficult roles with mental health patients, and it jumped at the chance to try out the chair for free. Vicky Stone, one of the trust's physiotherapists, said the trial results were not 'statistically valid' or rigorous, but they do offer the health and wellbeing board an insight into whether the chairs could continue to help staff and reduce sickness rates, and if they could even possibly be used for patients in the future.

She said: 'What we did get from it is that people very much enjoyed it and appreciated being able to use it, and the results were impressive in improving people's self-esteem. The idea is that by putting you in a relaxed state you are then more open to the suggestions in the audio, which are about rewiring how you think.'

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People taking part said it helped them to change their eating habits and the way they thought about food, as well as motivating them to start exercise. One subject found that using the chair in the morning before work, 'set her up for the day' and made work stress easier to cope with.

Ms Stone said the trust was hoping to continue to conduct trials using Miruji's other audio programmes, such as 'Sit and Quit', which is aimed at helping people to give up smoking.

Do you have a health story for the Evening News? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk.